Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori confirmed to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri that longtime Pokémon game designer Kōji Nishino served as the model for plus-sized Pokémon Snorlax.
“[Nishino], with this [huge] appearance, was the model for the Snorlax Pokémon,” Sugimori said. “Though, he’s abnormally fussy about cute things.”
The Game Freak employee has worked on nearly every Pokémon game since Pokémon Red and Green in 1996.
Nishino has more than 24 Pokémon-related credits, including Red and Green, Blue, Yellow, Gold and Silver, Ruby and Sapphire, Black and White, and Sun and Moon.
Nishino appears in-game in Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black and White 2 within the Game Freak building in Castelia City. Among the Pokémon in his collection include Clefable, Wigglytuff, Azumarill and, of course, Snorlax.
The Pokémon’s Japanese name, Kabigon (カビゴン), is reportedly based on Nishino’s nickname. Per Kotaku, “kabi” means “mold,” and Nishino gained a reputation of eating food that had gone moldy — a trait that found its way into Snorlax, whose strong stomach “allows it to eat even moldy food without feeling any ill effects,” according to Bulbapedia.
Snorlax frequently appears as an inadvertent roadblock in the Pokémon games, and has made other appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series as well as the Pokémon anime and manga.